Just waiting for your turn to talk?

I love the movie Fight Club . I don’t think that many Christians have watched the movie and realized all that it has to say about living your life as one who does not think that they are the most important thing on the earth. The one line that I always have running through my head is when Tyler and Marla are talking and they say that they go to support groups because people there actually listen to them instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

I am a counselling student and currently do success counselling for students at my school. That means that I help them organize their time, learn to study well, and occasionally proof read a paper. As I sit and listen to how they are doing in their vocation of school recently I constantly run that line through my head. I work hard not to just wait to tell about my story because this person has a captive audience. I have no demands from them during their meeting. Yes I do usually provide some homework in terms of asking them to manage time differently or something along those lines. I mean that I don’t have any relational demands for them.

Then in my daily life I try to remember that I don’t have to have a better story than my friend. Really they need to be listened to. When I do catch myself one upping their story I not only think of the line in Fight Club but I also think of what Donald Miller said in Blue Like Jazz regarding the ‘Life Boat Mentality.’ We work to one up our friends to prove to ourselves that we are more worthy than them to sit in the lifeboat. It is a product of our pride. Really I am just trying to make myself appear superior to my friend so that I feel better about myself. That is not what friendship is about. Is that what Jesus did? Jesus spent his time on earth listening to people and reaching into their lives to make them better people. He did not say “Oh yeah well one time I…” He challenged people to live in a holy manner. So my question is how much do you listen and how much do you wait for your turn to talk?


~ by curtismchale on October 30, 2007.

9 Responses to “Just waiting for your turn to talk?”

  1. Another wonderful post. Provocative. I’m a fellow Christian who also ranks Fight Club among my favorite movies. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite movies and she went through a phase of watching it repeatedly, and I watched it with her. It’s amazing what the 10th viewing of an already good movie will do for a person’s enlightenment. ;o)

    I also recently finished reading Blue Like Jazz and enjoyed Miller’s wry sense of humor. Refreshing.

    Anyway, I recall a time when Stephen Covey’s advice to “seek first to understand, then to be understood” seemed impossible. Now I truly believe (and act on) it, because I’ve learned just how unimportant I actually am in any given conversation. Listening to people is one of the greatest services we can provide, because it’s so rare.

  2. I have not watched that movie.

    Your question stung me. I’m definitely more inclined to talk than to listen. It’s one of my top three flaws. I’ve done better and better over the years, but hope to improve more, by God’s grace.

  3. Eve: Thanks for the support. I actually watched the movie just before the post, because I couldn’t remember the characters name just the actors, and was struck with more observations of life. I will have another post dealing with a “Fight Club Church.” Don’t know when but it is my to be written list.

    Ren: I have formal training in active listening and and mirroing language and waiting till the person is truly done, like when they look blankly at you with nothing left, and I still miss it all the time. I have continually got better but… A conflict management class helped me lots.

  4. This is a good post. To realize that we should shut up and listen is nearly impossible. I constantly feel as if i have these raging demons of conversation, anecdotes, observations, etc. as i talk to people. 2 things that help a bit: (although am i doing it again?)

    1. Talk to children. Listen to them, really. They think that the blue potty seat is actually the most interesting thing in the world. See their point of view!

    2. Talk to old people with lots of stories. The quality of what they have to say (mostly) is so much greater than whatever trivial thing that is burning in your mind. They should be listened to.

  5. The best book I have come across is ‘The Lost Art of Listening’ by Michael Nichols. Don’t know if you have read it but it is a great resource. Fight Club is a great movie about society trying to find something real and meaningful. It points out our need for connection although the characters get connected to something fleeting instead of something eternal.

  6. For me, talking was always more important. But six years ago i was diagnosed with major depression. I’ve come to understand that listening is as important aws talking when it coms to expression of feelings/thoughts. Listening, I put aside what I think, what I feel, and focus on what the other person wants to say.

  7. Wow. Thats so true. When I first started reading this I had a “I’ve probably heard this before” mindset, but this really suprised me with the Fight Club quote. I work @ Starbucks and we obviously have to socailize a lot and when I thought about it.. my co-workers (or partners as we’re supposed to call each other) almost ALWAYS have a “One time I had a customer that….” now wether it’s a positive or negative always depends on the story teller but it comes back to the fact that it’s so true when he/she says we’re always trying to one up everyone. I think once people, including myself, truly humble ourselves.. we’ll always put society’s opinion as more important than what we know to be right.

  8. No, that movie is not at all in sync with your beliefs as a Christian. I would know, I am a lapsed Catholic, and i used to be just as devout as any of you. Every Sunday, Catholic Schools, Catholic University, the whole shebang. You took one sentence out of the movie, and forgot the whole rest of it’s message. It’s really all about consumerism, and the fact that you thought the narrator was named Tyler Durden tells me two things, you drew your own conclusions about the movie and you didn’t read the book. They never once say the narrator’s name, and he even tells Marla that his name isn’t Tyler, and in the book he shows her his driver’s license to prove it, they couldn’t do that in the movie cause it would give away his real name, which is never mentioned or discussed. In other words, YOU didn’t listen to the movie, you waited to take what it had to say, and then said what you wanted it to mean. You did to the movie exactly what you said you didn’t do. Just be glad the movie is a black comedy, because it means your mistake is not just a problem with you, but a problem the movie was addressing about everyone.

  9. I never said that the whole movie was in sync with my beliefs as a Christian but I did take a line from the movie and apply it to another situation. The line was an example of a thought process/action that many people live in. I would suggest that you read the post again and not jump to conclusions but stick to the sentences that were actually used.

    I did say that there were many items in the movie that were worth the attention of Christians and that if they applied them they’d be living lives that more exemplified Christ. You can’t deny that taking time to actually listen to people instead of quickly telling your story (which of course is better) helps you be a better person. It takes the focus off you. You’re not looking for some sort of pay back all the time, just being with the other to be there for them.

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